Karnataka: Private-to-govt migration in rural and town schools | Bengaluru News – Times of India

BENGALURU: The Covid-19 pandemic and the resultant lockdown seem to have triggered a reverse trend in the state’s schooling system, especially in rural areas, where students are moving away from smaller private schools to enrol themselves in neighbourhood government schools.
While economists had predicted such a shift, considering the financial crisis the outbreak has created in families, students and parents in Karnataka have an added reason. Government schools have launched Vidyagama, a continuous learning programme, whereby classes are being held for small groups in fields, temples, community halls and playgrounds, while private schools in rural areas and smaller towns continue to be dysfunctional.
In Chamrajanagar district alone, 700-800 students have left private schools to join government schools, said the education department. “Vidyagama programme was well-received by parents. While private schools conducted classes online, which was difficult for many students to access, here teachers were directly contacting students and holding classes in small groups. The parents were happy to have their wards under the teacher’s care again,” said SD Javare Gowda, deputy director of public instruction, Chamrajanagar.
‘Great opportunity for govt to strengthen public edu system’
The Government Primary School in Siddaiahnapura in the district has enrolled 42 students from private schools so far, said Gowda, adding that the trend is visible in many schools in the district. “Mostly, students of classes 1-7 are shifting and the numbers are increasing,” he said.
“Twelve of 20 students in the village attending English-medium private schools shifted to our school. Most parents do not have phones. We, on the other hand, conduct classes in various other forms,” said C Naveen, who teaches at the Government Higher Primary School in Katnavadi, Chamarajanagar. “Also, they feel it’s not worth paying such high fees for online classes.”
“Around 20 students have come from private schools for classes 1-8. Most of them said financial distress and inability to attend online classes prompted the move,” said Krishnaveni Rai, a teacher of Government Upgraded High School in Uppinangadi, Dakshina Kannada.
At the other end of the state, in Yadgir in the north, government school teacher Sharanayya T from Darbar in Shorapur said: “Five students from neighbourhood Englishmedium schools joined us. Private schools are giving online education but we travel to our students’ villages and teach them there.”
Officials said many other districts are seeing a similar trend but the department is yet to collate data on admissions that are currently under way. Currently, there are nearly 44 lakh students in government schools, 14.4 lakh in aided schools and 54.5 lakh in private schools in the state.
Educationists say the migration will help rebuild public school infrastructure and revive quality. “This is a great opportunity for the government to strengthen the public education system and gain people’s confidence. However, it’s unfortunate that it has not prepared a blueprint or roadmap for the admission process,” said VP Niranjanaradhya of the Centre for Child and Law, NLSIU. “Closure of schools affects the admission process of migrant children and those moving from private schools. Keeping in mind that 5-10% migration to government schools might happen, the government should have continued admission by asking head teachers to be present in school and by keeping the free entitlements ready.”
While government schools are drawing more students, private schools in rural areas have started to feel the pinch. “Parents ask us why is it that only government schools are functioning while we are not,” said BK Muniswamy, principal of Anthyodaya Group of Schools in Pavagada (Tumakuru), who is also president of the private school management’s association in Madhugiri educational district. “Our students come from 5-6 villages by bus and teachers from other distant places. While government schoolteachers may find it easier to gather their students in an area as they are mostly from the same locality, it’s not feasible for us.” Muniswamy said 20 of his 170 students have taken transfer certificates.
Sridhar M of Anikethan Public School, Hongasandra, said 30-40 students have taken TCs from his school after Vidyagama was launched. “Some of them are going back to their hometowns and villages and joining government schools there. They point out how classes are continuing in these schools and freebies like meals and textbooks are provided as well. Some of them do not pay the pending fee amount either,” he said.

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Sagar Biswas

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